Faith Fellowship Church…PO Box 1586…Broken Arrow, OK 74013…918-451-0270… Pastor Terry Dashner…
Higher Law series Lesson Three
“Evolution of Inalienable Rights”
“The Dawning of a New Day”
History is divided into three parts: ancient history, Middle Ages, and current Modern era. The greatest turn in history was Reformation in modern era of history. The Reformation birthed and nurtured science, art, and religion like no other period of history before it. I’m going to continue my topic on sacredness of human life as it evolved from heights of Reformation to its fall in present day America. Once again, I begin with teachings of John Calvin in late 16th century.
On July 10, 1509, John Calvin, destined to become one of most influential Protestant leaders of all time, was born in Noyon (nwa-yon), France. After studying law and liberal arts and mastering ancient classical books, Calvin became associated with a group of Renaissance French scholars who were very critical of Romanism. Sometime before 1534, Calvin later described, God “subdued…[his] heart to docility [obedience] by sudden conversion,” and Calvin was henceforth committed to Protestant faith. Calvin had opportunity to put many of his ideas into practice in city of Geneva, Switzerland. Exiled Protestants from all over Europe found refuge in Calvin’s Geneva. Future leaders of Reformation in other lands received training in basics of faith and practice, and Geneva became known as “Protestant Rome.” John Knox Scottish Reformation leader, who spent several years in exile in Geneva, called city “the most perfect school of Christ.”
At heart of Calvin’s system of theology is his strong belief in sovereignty of God. Calvin believed that God “predestines” all things according to His own will. Everything God does is for His glory, although finite man does not understand God’s ways. Calvin applied his teaching concerning sovereignty of God to everyday life in Geneva. He sought to build a Christian community based upon Word of God. Taking Bible, especially Old Testament, as his law book, Calvin made sure that city statutes conformed to scriptural teaching. He stressed independence of church and state, but he believed that both were subject to rule of God. He asserted that duty of state was to promote piety, punish evildoers, and assist church by providing an atmosphere that would encouraged godliness in lives of church members. The Geneva city council adopted his teaching issued orders forbidding dancing, drunkenness, and gambling, and requiring everyone to attend church services.
The Separatists of England adopted Calvin’s emphasis on rule of law. The Separatists of England became Pilgrims who journeyed to “New World.” The Mayflower Compact that was drafted in Boston Harbor by Pilgrims was a model of government rooted in ideas of Calvinism. Calvin’s rule of law was rooted in Old Testament of Bible. From Pilgrim’s Compact came foundation of America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights. There were other ideas that would seed Declaration of Independence and U. S. Constitution, which came from Age of Reason (18th century). For example, political reform was one of chief concerns of 18th century philosophes (social reformers of Enlightenment). John Lock, who certainly was not a friend to religion, advanced idea that men possess certain natural and inalienable rights—rights that can not be transferred or surrendered. Also, Montesquieu believed in political reform. He believed that government should be separated into three powers: executive, legislative, and judicial. Time and space does not allow me to mention others like Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, and their works of literature that were spawning new forms of government throughout world, namely England (Glorious Revolution), America (American Revolution), and France (Revolution).